Experiences with IB programme vs possible grade skip - Mothering Forums
Parenting the Gifted Child > Experiences with IB programme vs possible grade skip
My_Three_Sons's Avatar My_Three_Sons 08:26 AM 05-03-2012

My Gr 4 ds is being assessed for a possible grade skip to Gr 6.  He has not been TAG as this point.  I want to investigate all possible options for him before the skip though.  We'll be meeting with the school soon to discuss this, and also whether he can be given enriched type of work in his class room by his teacher, or possible acceleration in some subjects.  There are two schools with the International Baccalaureate programme that have the Middle Years Programme in our desired language (French).  They are both quite a drive though (about 1/2 hr each way) and I've always liked that my ds is at a school in our community.  Our closest high school has the IB diploma programme but not MYP, and it's only in English.  My understanding of the IB diploma is that a student can enter university into second year.  If my ds does skip a grade, that would make him 17 in 2nd yr.  My dh thinks it is too soon to worry about all this, and successfully skipped a grade himself, but I just want to make sure we do the right thing.


I wonder if anyone can comment on the IB programme, particularly for the Primary and Middle Years age group.  It sounds like it would have more of an advanced programme.  We have yet to talk with the programme coordinators as it's exam time and apparently very busy for them through May.

quantumleap's Avatar quantumleap 10:30 AM 05-03-2012

I don't have any experience with the primary or middle years IB programmes, but I'm a graduate of the high school programme (in French, even!). The programme is awesome. A little insane, but awesome. I was supposed to skip grade 2, but my parents wanted me to stay with my peer group (bla, bla). The IB was challenging enough to be interesting, but not so much that it was overwhelming or anything. The middle years programme sounds really neat, and I would definitely consider it for my own children. 

The real reason I'm replying here though, is that an IB diploma does NOT give you a complete first year of university. I did finish my four year degree in three years, but that was due to a combination of IB transfer credits, some spanish credits I negotiated for after language training in Latin America, and three summer classes. None of my fellow graduates got a complete first year's worth of transfer credits. We're in Canada too, and were at universities like Laval, McGill, Dalhousie, Mount Allison, UBC and Universite de Moncton. Just so you're not counting on that!

I'm pretty hesitant about the long commute thing too though. Actually, we're going to be homeschooling our dd for at least kindergarden simply because the french school in our city is almost a full hour, one way, on the bus. I just can't imagine sending my four year old to school for a long day and then also making her spend close to two hours on a bus. Crazy! That said, your kiddo is older, and, especially if you or your partner can drive him, you might be able to spend some good talking time with him during that driving period.

What does your son want to do? 

My_Three_Sons's Avatar My_Three_Sons 10:46 AM 05-03-2012

Thank you for your thoughts.  That's interesting about the university situation.  If you finished in 3 years, perhaps that could also mean that a student could do it in the usual 4 years with some 'free' time to pursue other interests, or work part-time?  Do you wish you skipped a grade?  My ds was initially very anti skipping a grade, but in the last few months has begun to see how bored he is at school and that it doesn't have to be that way.  He also is friendly with kids a year up, so I think he sees himself fitting in.  His biggest concern with moving up a grade actually was that he would have one year less at his elementary school as he loves it there.  So he would probably not want to go to an IB school, even if it meant staying with his age group.  However, he is a reasonable child and given to pros/cons analyses so he might see the benefits.  The commute is one of my main concerns.  I do have two younger ds's and need to consider them as well.

qualia's Avatar qualia 05:42 PM 05-03-2012

I'm a graduate of the IB program in the United States. I can't speak to the middle school program because we had no such option in our area, but I had a good experience in my high school program. It was a well-rounded curriculum, the teachers were wonderful, and the program attracted bright and high-achieving students from all over our area. Many, including myself, later studied at the top 10-20 universities in the US, and because of how challenging the IB curriculum was, we did not have difficulty adjusting to a more competitive college environment.


I was in the gifted track since elementary school and I believe my school would have been amenable to grade skipping, but for me skipping grades would not have been the right move. I was rather shy, awkward, and socially immature in middle through high school. I could not have imagined myself entering into the complex social dynamics of college dorm life a year early. I don't know what your son is like. If he's an outgoing social sophisticate, grade skipping might be a great idea. If he is more like I was, finding a challenging curriculum but leaving him with bright age peers might be the better option.


Also, one important caveat: not all IB programs are created equal. Do you know how successful the program in your area has been? What percentage of the school's high school graduates actually get the IB diploma? This is a useful measure of how high the level of teaching is, and of how competitive the kids at school are. The IB graduation exams are graded by outside international examiners, and not within the school itself. Some IB schools do not have a great success rate when it comes to their students passing these international exams.


I also want to confirm what quantum leap said; the IB diploma does not allow you to skip a year at the university level. Depending on the school you may be able to use a few high IB exam scores to skip some introductory level classes, e.g. Chemistry or Physics. But that is all.

moominmamma's Avatar moominmamma 09:39 PM 05-03-2012
I don't have direct experience with IB programs, but two of my close friends did (this was the high school program, in Canada). I did just want to extend a cautionary note. If your child ends up having significant non-academic passions, the IB workload can really interfere with committing adequately to those extra-curricular pursuits. IB students can "round out" their academic learning with a bit of sports or arts, but there typically isn't time to really delve.

My eldest was grade-skipped but being old-for-grade she wasn't really much younger than her classmates. She is an amazing academic achiever and on the surface of it an IB program might have looked like a good fit. But as she grew up her interests in writing, choral music, violin and piano grew very strong and because she was able to pursue them deeply, they were very fulfilling for her and she enjoyed a great deal of success (and this ultimately led her to her chosen career). She was also able to work part-time at a few different jobs, giving herself an impressive resumé and a healthy employability which is coming in handy as she pursues post-secondary training. So in retrospect I'm glad she didn't have the option of an IB program.

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